I was deeply impressed with how engaging and interesting “The Year of the Flood” was from the very first chapter. And it’s not just because the characters of Toby and Ren are round and well developed (not going to lie, I was much more invested in Ren’s storyline than Toby’s), but also because Atwood writes such insightful and intriguing lines so fluidly. One thing in particular that struck me was the idea of writing being a dangerous action. According to the Gardeners, writings can be easily used by enemies to bring harm to yourself, an idea so different from what I’ve been taught all my life: Writings preserve knowledge and foster the development of communities and cultures, creating better futures. Writing has always been taught as a positive thing, but here it’s described as permanent in a negative way because it allows everybody to share knowledge that should only be possessed by few. This is just one excerpt that made me stop reading and think (I’m not much of a reader, so I don’t ponder over books very often).
Another part that impressed me was the depiction of Ren as a young child, it’s so accurate of children everywhere. She’s immersed in an environment which she had no real option to be in and there are many restrictions and rules which must be followed. Children don’t like rules, this is a common fact, which makes her encounter with Amanda so intriguing. She meets this flashy, knowledgeable Pleebrat, a member of the real world, full of danger and excitement. Her deep desire to impress this new character is completely understandable, and I’m not surprised that she even denies being part of the Gardeners when she’s questioned about it. People in general, but children especially, wish to gain acceptance and approval from their peers because they believe it will bring about connections and relationships with others, which is exactly what happened between Amanda and Ren. It’s also a very middle school situation that Amanda and Ren spread this rumor about Burt which gets wildly out of control and escalates very quickly. Atwood does such a wonderful job of depicting childhood habits and showing that despite the occurrences of this time period, these characters are still just kids.